s

beacon's blog

haute macabre

The “Black Ascot”, 1910 - Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Getty Images


when queen victoria wore her mourning attire 40 years beyond the requisite two-and-a-half, she caused a fashion phenomenon. widows throughout the west clamored for her all-black look, complete with a dramatic veil and jewelry containing braided bits of the deceased’s hair. death was a complete ensemble.

of course the clothes were symbolic, not just trendy. victorian women had a whole heap of social expectations to follow, and to be tethered to one’s spouse, in life and death, was a fashion must.

this october, the MET museum presents the queen’s bereavement best and beyond in the upcoming exhibit, "death becomes her: a century of mourning attire" known as “widow’s weeds,” the 30-odd ensembles reveal the effects of mourning rituals on fashion, reminding us that once upon a time, a black dress was a grave statement about a woman’s lot in life, and not the trusty sartorial staple hanging in every gal’s closet. 



Mourning Ensemble, 1870-1872

Black silk crape, black mousseline
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Martha Woodward Weber, 1930 (2009.300.633a, b)

Veil, ca. 1875, Black silk crape
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Roi White, 1984 (1984.285.1)

Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Karin L. Willis

Evening Dress, ca. 1861

Black moiré silk, black jet, black lace
Lent by Roy Langford (C.I.L.37.1a)

Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Karin L. Willis

Mourning Parasol, 1895-1900

Black silk, wood, metal, tortoiseshell
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Rachel Trowbridge, 1960 (2009.300.2478)

Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mourning Dress, 1902-1904

Black silk crape, black chiffon, black taffeta
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of The New York Historical Society, 1979 (1979.346.93b, c)

Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Karin L. Willis

Mourning Dress (Detail), 1902-1904

Black silk crape, black chiffon, black taffeta
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of The New York Historical Society, 1979; (1979.346.93b, c)

Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Karin L. Willis

Brooch, ca. 1850 [Top]

Gold, jet, pearls, crystal, hair
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Susan and Jon Rotenstreich Gift, 2000 (2000.557)

Brooch, 1868 [Bottom]

Tiffany & Co. (American, founded 1837)
Gold, pearls, black enamel, hair
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Susan and Jon Rotenstreich Gift, 2000 (2000.556)

Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Evening Dress, 1902

Henriette Favre (French)
Worn by Queen Alexandra (British, born Denmark, 1844
1925)

Mauve silk tulle, sequins
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Miss Irene Lewisohn, 1937 (C.I. 37.44.1)

Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Karin L. Willis


death beacomes her: a century of mourning attire opens october 21st

  • Carly Boonparn
  • stuff we like